The major hotel chains obviously want you to make your reservations directly with them whenever possible, so that they don’t have to pay a commission to an online travel agency. That’s why they offer all kinds of incentives for booking directly with them, and in many cases won’t award points or elite benefits if booking through an online travel agency. This year Marriott and Starwood even added free wifi for all members, but only if you book directly with the hotel chain (Hyatt also added free wifi, except they did so with no strings attached).
One thing virtually all the major hotel chains offer is a best rate guarantee, whereby they guarantee that their best rates for their hotels are available directly through their website. If you find a better rate elsewhere, they give you some sort of compensation.
If there’s one area of this hobby that I wish I could get better at, it would be best rate guarantees. They’re a near full time hobby for some people, and you can save a lot of money by using them.
Anyway, up until this year, Starwood’s Best Rate Guarantee offered 2,000 Starpoints or a 10% discount on the competing rate, if you found a cheaper rate elsewhere.
However, it looks like they’ve stepped up their game, as Starwood has doubled the discount of the Best Rate Guarantee. If you find a better rate elsewhere, Starwood will honor the competing rate and provide a 20% discount off the competing rate. Via the BRG terms:
In the unlikely event that a lower rate at a Starwood Hotel is made available on a non-Starwood website or non-Starwood mobile application (the “Competing Rate”), upon its receipt of a claim that satisfies these Best Rate Guarantee terms and conditions (the “BRG Terms”), Starwood will honor that Competing Rate and provide the individual that submitted the valid claim one of the following rewards: (1) an additional 20% discount off the Competing Rate per room per night; or (2) 2,000 Starwood Preferred Guest® Starpoints® per room per stay.
Interestingly they kept the number of Starpoints offered for a successful BRG the same. I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each, so 2,000 Starpoints are worth ~$44 to me. With the new 20% discount, you’re better off going with the discount than the points if the rate is at least $220, in my opinion.
For what it’s worth, this was confirmed by Starwood Lurker on FlyerTalk to be a new policy as of January 5, 2015:
Effective today, January 5th, we have increased the BRG reward percentage to 20. This is another way we’re making Starwood channels the best place to book your stay for the most attractive rates and rewards like free wifi, which we announced last month. All claim processing will be business as usual in accordance with the new terms and conditions.
Hmmm, I really should learn more about the Starwood Best Rate Guarantee sooner rather than later, I guess….
Kudos to Starwood for this. Most hotels seem to be watering down their best rate guarantees, so it’s nice to see Starwood going in the opposite direction.
Have you ever used a best rate guarantee to save money on a hotel?